My first day at the new job started at about 3:30 am.
I had slept for a solid three or four hours, but once awake, I kept tossing and turning. My body was not cooperating. My mind was not cooperating. Usually I can distract myself by thinking of something fun or positive. It relaxes me and I fall back to sleep. My sleeping patterns were different. I could not think of anything, except that I needed to get up in a couple of hours to start chemotherapy treatments.
After a pit stop at the bathroom, I tiptoed past the door to the living room into the kitchen for a glass of water and some Tylenol. Grandpa Bucky, our aging canine love child, slept curled up on the living room floor. I didn’t want to wake him. He would want to go out, and then we would risk a middle of the night confrontation with one of the many woodland creatures who routinely patrol our back yard. As a young Buck, he tried to get friendly with a skunk who had meandered through our side yard. The liquid dish soap and hydrogen peroxide spa treatments we gave him in the middle of the night only deodorized him. Don and I smelled so bad we were both sent home from work the next day. But I digress.
I filled a glass with water and grabbed the Tylenol I had left out. Stuck on the front of a bag of granola on the kitchen counter were two notes from my daughter. “Good luck today! Love you. – Mary,” the sticky note read. It was stuck to the bag with a longer handwritten letter, which began:
“Dear Mom, I’m not sure this will hurt things or help, but every time I’ve had something big happening in my life, you always have a letter of some sort that makes me feel better. So this is mine for you. Today is a scary day for you, but it’s also a scary day for your cancer. Today is the day you officially start your fight.” Her letter continued with words and sentiments that filled me up.
The alarm going off at 5:30 am was still too early, but I was ready for the first day of chemo. We were the third arrival and had our pick between chair #21 or chair #22. The #22 chair and area didn’t seem to have the right feng shui, so I made a beeline for the light filled area to the left. Don reminded me, “12 is your lucky number. Close enough, right?” Things were stacking up in my favor.
My biggest fear was that I would have a bad reaction to one of the chemo drugs. That did not happen. Haley, my nurse today, did a thorough job explaining the process and how she would infuse the four different drugs, plus the premeds, which included saline and anti nausea medications. She told me what was normal and not normal, and made sure I felt comfortable telling her what didn’t feel right. Some of the other nurses touched base as well. The protocol requires that a second person check each step. It worked well in introducing me to many of the staff members. I have a confidence level they will be able to handle any scenario.
I felt a little woozy towards the end of the morning. Not sick to my stomach, but my equilibrium seemed off. I asked Haley about the nausea. “Should I expect at some point I’ll be vomiting?” She shrugged and told me the symptoms for each person are unique. “You might, but you might not.” I’m trying to be realistic, but I’ll take “not” if it’s available.